Tom Tit Tot
Reading time: 4 minutes. Word count: 700 words.
ONCE upon a time there was a woman, and she baked five pies. And when they came out of the oven, they were that overbaked the crusts were too hard to eat. So she says to her daughter: ‘Darter,’ says she, ‘put you them there pies on the shelf, and leave ‘em there a little, and they’ll come again.’ - She meant, you know, the crust would get soft.
But the girl, she says to herself: ‘Well, if they’ll come again, I’ll eat ‘em now.’ And she set to work and ate ‘em all, first and last.
Well, come supper-time the woman said: ‘Go you, and get one o’ them there pies. I dare say they’ve come again now.’ The girl went and she looked, and there was nothing but the dishes. So back she came and says she: ‘Noo, they ain’t come again.’ ‘Not one of ‘em?’ says the mother. ‘Not one of’ ‘em,’ says she.
‘Well, come again, or not come again,’ said the woman, ‘I’ll have one for supper.’ ‘But you can’t, if they ain’t come,’ said the girl. ‘But I can,’ says she. ‘Go you, and bring the best of ‘em.’ ‘Best or worst,’ says the girl, ‘I’ve ate ‘em all, and you can’t have one till that’s come again.’
Well, the woman she was done, and she took her spinning to the door to spin, and as she span she sang:
‘My darter ha’ ate five, five pies today.
My darter ha’ ate five, five pies today.’
The king was coming down the street, and he heard her sing, but what she sang he couldn’t hear, so he stopped and said: ‘What was that you were singing, my good woman?’
The woman was ashamed to let him hear what her daughter had been doing, so she sang, instead of that:
‘My darter ha’ spun five, five skeins today.
My darter ha’ spun five, five skeins today.’
‘Stars o’ mine!’ said the king, ‘I never heard tell of anyone that could do that.’ Then he said: ‘Look you here, I want a wife, and I’ll marry your daughter. But look you here,’ says he, ‘eleven months out of the year she shall have all she likes to eat, and all the gowns she likes to get, and all the company she likes to keep; but the last month of the year she’ll have to spin five skeins every day, and if she don’t I shall kill her.’
‘All right,’ says the woman; for she thought what a grand marriage that was. And as for the five skeins, when the time came, there’d be plenty of ways of getting out of it, and likeliest, he’d have forgotten all about it.
Well, so they were married. And for eleven months the girl had all she liked to eat, and all the gowns she liked to get, and all the company she liked to keep. But when the time was getting over, she began to think about the skeins and to wonder if he had ‘em in mind. But not one word did he say about ‘em, and she thought he’d wholly forgotten ‘em.
However, the last day of the last month he takes her to a room she’d never set eyes on before. There was nothing in it but a spinning-wheel and a stool. And says he: ‘Now, my dear, here you’ll be shut in tomorrow with some victuals and some flax, and if you haven’t spun five skeins by the night, your head’ll go off.’ And away he went about his business.
Well, she was that frightened, she’d always been such a gatless girl, that she didn’t so much as know how to spin, and what was she to do tomorrow with no one to come nigh her to help her? She sat down on a stool in the kitchen, and law! how she did cry!
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Source: English Fairy Tales by Joseph Jacobs (1890). Weblink.
Languages / Anthropology 3043: Folklore & Mythology.
Laura Gibbs, Ph.D.
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